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Recipe: Buttery, Flaky Croissants

There’s just something comforting about a morning breakfast of a pastry and coffee. It’s especially comforting when that pastry is a fantastic, flaky croissant. This French pastry is so light, airy, and decadently buttery. We began to wonder how to make our own.

It turns out properly making these pastries is a fairly involved process. It involves a decent amount of chilling, and shaping, and proofing to get this dough to just the right texture we were looking for. We wanted that flaky crust with a smooth inside, and that’s not so easy to produce.

Make this a weekend project and enjoy the croissants for the rest of the week. It’s always fun to try making something from-scratch, and food really does taste better when it’s homemade. With that in mind, keep reading below for our favorite croissant recipe…

Buttery, Flaky Croissants

Ingredients

  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg

Directions

  1. Combine the first seven ingredients (including the salt, but not the 1-1/4 cups cold unsalted butter or the egg) in a large mixing bowl. If you have a stand mixer, mix on low speed for 3 minutes then on medium for 3 minutes. If not, knead by hand until the dough comes together. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured 10″ dinner plate. Lightly flour the top of the dough, and wrap well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, cut the cold butter lengthwise into 1/2″ thick slices. Arrange the pieces on a layer of parchment paper to form a 5-6″ square. Top with another layer of parchment paper, then with a rolling pin pound the butter with light, even strokes. Use more force as the butter begins to adhere.
  3. When the butter is about a 7 1/2″ square, trim the edges and put the trimmings on top of the square then pound them in lightly with the rolling pin. Put the butter in the refrigerator.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 10-1/2″ square. Brush the excess four off the dough, then remove the butter from the refrigerator. Unwrap and place the butter on the dough arranged so the points of the butter square are centered with the sides (think putting a square in a diamond). Fold one flap of dough over the butter, stretching it slightly so that the point just reaches the center of the butter. Repeat with the other flaps, then press the edges together to completely seal the dough.
  5. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough, then firmly press the dough with the rolling pin to elongate it slightly. Then roll the pin over, making sure to lengthen rather than widen the dough and keep the edges straight.
  6. Roll the dough until it’s about 8″x24″. Brush any excess flour off the dough, then pick up one end of the dough, and fold it back over, leaving one-third of the other end exposed. Fold the last third over the folded side (like folding a letter for an envelope). Put the dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes.
  7. Repeat the rolling and folding, this time in the direction of the two open ends. It should end up again at 8″x24″ before once more folding into thirds. Cover and freeze for another 20 minutes.
  8. Repeat step 7 once more before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.
  9. Unwrap the dough the next day and lightly flour the top and bottom. With a rolling pin, press firmly along its length (trying to not widen the dough). Once it’s been pressed out, lengthen it by rolling back and forth into a narrow strip of about 8″x44″, occasionally sprinkling with flour if the dough sticks. Once it’s stretch out, trim the dough on either end so they are straight (it’ll cut the dough down to about 40″ long).
  10. Use a yardstick, ruler, or tape measure to make marks at 4″ intervals along the length. On the bottom of the dough, mark it 2 1/2″ from the end of the dough then 5 ” intervals from this point along the bottom of the dough.
  11. To cut, position the ruler at the top corner and the first bottom mark. Use a knife or pizza wheel to cut the dough along the line. Move the yardstick to the next set of marks and cut. Repeat until the dough is cut diagonally at the same angle along the entire length. Change the angle of the yardstick to connect the other top corner and bottom mark, and cut along this line to down the length to make a total of 15 triangles.
  12. To shape the croissants, use a paring knife to make a small 1/2″ notch in the center of the short side of each triangle. Gently stretch out the triangle so it elongates to about 10″ without squeezing or compressing the dough.
  13. Lay the croissant on the work surface with the notched side closes to you. With one hand on each side of the notch, roll the dough away from you towards the pointed end and flare your hands outwards as you roll so the edges become longer. Press down on the dough with just enough force to make the layers stick, but don’t press too hard. Once completely rolled, bend the two sides towards you to form the crescent shape. Repeat with remaining croissants, arranging them on two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Keep space between them as they will rise during the final proofing.
  14. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg with 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl until very smooth, then brush each croissant with the wash.
  15. Refrigerate the remaining egg wash, and put the croissants in a draft-free spot at room temperature, and let proof for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. They shouldn’t quite have doubled, but they should be larger.
  16. Preheat the oven to 425F. Brush the croissants a second time with the egg wash, then put the sheets in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets to swap their positions. Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are evenly brown and the tops are a rich, golden brown.
  17. Serve warm.
  18. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Top With Cinnamon

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